This week, Donald & Melania Trump visited the house of Mahatma Gandhi in Delhi. It reminded me of a visit I made while in Delhi and this left a huge impression on me.
I had to think back on a, by now famous, car bumper sticker – “He Who Dies With The Most Toys Wins.”
It seems that we are still right in the middle of our growth-fueled, unbridled consumerism. Accumulating possessions still seems to be the measure of our achievements. Our net-worth determines our self-worth!
When Gandhi died, he had less than ten possessions including a watch, spectacles, sandals and eating bowl. He was a man of non-possession and didn’t even possess a house.
He practiced simplicity and minimalism in all areas of his life and he left behind a huge legacy in how to live a life of simplicity. Gandhi believed in possessing little except the clothes he wore and some utensils for cooking and eating. He used to give away or auction any gift that was ever given to him.
The picture shows what possessions Gandhi had when he died. His worth was surely not measured in what he owned. Not that he was against having good material things. He said, “You may have occasion to possess or use material things, but the secret of life lies in never missing them.” Just how attached are we to material things?
We tend to spend a lot of money, time and energy looking after our possessions. By having fewer things to possess and look after, your life naturally becomes simpler. I believe this contributes to a good life of contentment and thankfulness for what we have.
Gandhi did not condemn wealth, but the attachment to it, leading to being possessed by possessions. He said, “If one has wealth, it does not mean that it should be thrown away and wife and children should be turned out of doors. It simply means that one must give up attachment of these things!” My good friend Dr. Andrès Panasiuk says, “We need to cut the emotional umbilical cord which attaches us to our possessions.”
Richard Foster, author of the great book, ‘The Freedom of Simplicity,’ stated (simply of course…) that “Simplicity is Freedom.”
Simplicity is an inward reality that results in an outward lifestyle.
The inward reality of simplicity is beautifully encapsulated in Jesus’s words that we are to seek first the kingdom of God and the righteousness of this kingdom, and then all that is needed for life will be added to us. (Matthew 6:33)
Foster writes, “Three key attitudes of heart help to summarize this internal focus. If what we have we can receive as a gift from God; and if what we have is to be used for God; and if what we have can be available to others when it is clearly right and good, then we are living in the inward reality of simplicity.”
Keith & Kristyn Getty are probably my favourite Christian musicians.
Watch this wonderful performance of an old classic hymn, “My Worth is not in What I Own.”